Treasure Coast Medical Report
At Hog Technologies’ first
plasma drive, OneBlood
identified 27 donors — the
largest plasma donation drive
in the country, at that time.
is moving in slow motion.”
After spending an entire day hunting for a rapid test and
coming up empty handed, Crocker was feeling discouraged
and almost defeated.
“God knew exactly the man that I needed to partner with,
especially on that day,” Stacie Rathel says. “Around 3 or 4
in the afternoon, James said to me, ‘I feel that it doesn’t look
good.’ I said to him, ‘Please, don’t give up!’ And he responded,
‘No way, no how, not ever!’ He’s just as bulldoggish and
persistent as I am. So, the two of us are immediately speaking
the same language.”
It was not until later that evening as Crocker and Stacie
Rathel were still searching for a solution that she received an
unexpected call from Dr. George Ralls, the medical chief quality
officer of Orlando Regional Health.
“Dr. Ralls asks, ‘How far is the donor?’ ” Crocker recalls
the conversation. “Stacie said, ‘Three feet away from me.’ He
said, ‘Send him over,’ and Dr. Ralls administered that test
himself and had the results 30 minutes later — negative. The
next morning, I went to OneBlood and donated plasma. It
took them about 45 minutes. They had a courier waiting to
rush it to St. Petersburg to the OneBlood Lab.”
Around midnight on April 8, Kevin Rathel was the first
COVID-19 patient in the Southeast to receive a plasma infusion.
It took several days for the treatment to take effect.
On Easter morning, April 12, Kevin Rathel was taken out
of a coma and his doctor woke him up. He was still on a
ventilator. Rathel’s physician, Dr. Mai Vo, had a surprise for
Stacie Rathel. She called her on FaceTime and told her to talk
to her husband.
“There was this moment when me and the kids started
talking to him and he had a tear rolling down his cheek,” she
recalls. “Dr. Vo said, ‘He hears you — he’s crying. He heard
you.’ He can’t communicate with us, except for a tear. Oh, my
God! What an amazing moment that was!”
“I remember hearing Stacie’s voice and the kids’ voices,
and then of course, tears just came out,” Kevin Rathel remembers.
“I couldn’t talk because I had that thing in my throat. It
was a miracle.”
His condition turned around from that day forward. He
Rathel holds on to the arm of his son, Cole, as he waves to well-wishers
who came to welcome him home after his battle with COVID-19.
was released from the hospital the next week and is recovering
at home today. He says he feels much better, almost 75
percent back, and is grateful to be alive.
Kevin Rathel’s battle with COVID-19 inspired Crocker to
establish Plasmaforlives.com, an online website that connects
plasma donors with COVID-19 patients.
“My vision for the website is to create a place to tell compelling
stories of need,” Crocker explains. “I felt like there
could exist a more centralized place where folks could share
their urgent needs for plasma. The other thing I wanted to do
was to celebrate people who are donating. And then, a central
place where there is a lot of information — news stories,
events, things that are relevant in the study of plasma — and
whether it’s successful or not.”
Crocker believes more plasma donors could be found if
antibody testing were more widely available. He purchased